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CBS Poll: Economy Worries Young Voters

Concerns about the state of the economy have passed the Iraq war as the top concern for voters between the ages of 18 and 29, according to a poll conducted by CBS News and MTV.

Twenty-two percent of young adults surveyed cited the economy as the number one issue facing their generation, compared to 13 percent who said the war in Iraq. In a similar poll conducted last June, the war topped the list of concerns with 19 percent.

When it comes to the economy, young adults are just as pessimistic as all adults nationwide. Seventy five percent said the state of the economy is bad, compared to 78 percent who said so among adults overall in March. Just 22 percent of young people said they felt the state of the economy is good.

And just one-third of young adults said they feel their job prospects are excellent or good. Sixty seven percent said they felt their employment opportunities would be fair or poor. Those numbers are almost identical to how young people felt in a CBS News/MTV poll conducted in September of 2004.

Read The Complete Poll Results

Asked about the biggest long-term problems their generation will face, 34 percent said the economy while 18 percent cited the environment. Just 11 percent put the issues of war and terrorism at the top of their list of concerns over the next twenty years.

About half of young adults say they think the presidential candidates are paying the right amount of attention to the economy but 65 percent say job opportunities for younger workers does not get enough attention on the campaign trail. Thirty three percent say economic issues will be their top issue in November's elections while 25 percent say it will be the war in Iraq. Most of those who said the war was their topic election issue said the candidates are making it a priority while those who said the economy want to hear more.

And young adults say the candidates are not doing enough either in general or on specifics to address concerns of global warming. Forty seven percent said the candidates are not spending enough time on the issue and 65 percent said they have not addressed specific plans to reduce the use of oil and gas.

Young voters who have either already voted in a Democratic primary or intend to support Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton by a 48 percent to 37 percent margin. While over 60 percent of supporters for each candidate say they strongly support their choice, just 29 percent of all young voters say there are large differences between the two.

Both Democrats lead presumptive Republican nominee John McCain among younger voters in a fall matchup. Obama bests McCain in the poll 52 percent to 39 percent while Clinton leads 51 percent to 40 percent. Both Democrats were given higher marks when young adults were asked which candidates care about their issues. Eight eight percent said they thought Obama cared a lot or some about the problems of young people while 78 percent said the same of Clinton. Just 57 percent said they thought John McCain cared a lot or some about their problems.

When it comes to the war in Iraq, young adults are looking for a president who will end it. Sixty six percent say the next president should end the war while 33 percent say it should continue.

Young people see themselves having as much of an impact on the outcome of the presidential campaign as any other age group. Thirty six percent said they thought their age group would have as much influence on the election as older voters while 31 percent said they would have more influence. Thirty one percent said they thought their age group would have less. And 75 percent said this election will be the most important or one of the most important in their lifetimes.

Eighty four percent of those under 30 said they are paying some or a lot of attention to the campaign and 77 percent described it as interesting, compared to 21 percent who said it was dull.

The Internet and social networking sites play a large role in the lives of young people. Three in four Americans under the age of 30 use networking sites like Facebook and MySpace and six in ten have their own pages on such sites. About one quarter of young adults say they have visited a candidate's Web site. Still, 71 percent said a lot of their political information comes from television while just 15 percent said a lot of it comes from Web sites and blogs. Twelve percent say they get a lot of their political information from late night talk and comedy shows.


This poll was conducted jointly by CBS News and MTV. Interviews were conducted by telephone among 526 18 to 29 year olds April 10th-15th 2008. These respondents were part of nationwide representative samples identified in households previously interviewed in CBS News Polls, and from RDD samples of both standard land-lines and cell phones. The sample is weighted to ensure that the distribution of interviews mirrors the distribution of the entire population of 18 to 29 year-olds across a variety of variables, and for the likelihood of a respondent's selection within a household. The weights were adjusted to match Census Bureau estimates of 18 to 29 year-olds by age, presence of both 18-24 year olds and 25-29 year olds in the same household, education, gender, marital status, and census region. The margin of error for this survey is plus or minus four percentage points for results based on the entire sample.

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